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Tony Blair Starts UK Withdrawal of British Troops from Southern Iraq

Politics / Iraq War Feb 21, 2007 - 08:54 PM GMT

By: John_York

Politics

Tony Blair has announced plans to reduce British forces in Iraq by 1600, or approximately 25% to 5,500, with further withdrawals planned during 2007 to bring the UK's troop presence to below 5000.

Tony Blair has announced plans to reduce British forces in Iraq by 1600, or approximately 25% to 5,500, with further withdrawls planned during 2007 to bring the UK's troop presence to below 5000.


At its peak, the UK had over 45,000 troops in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, after which the number has stayed between 7000 and 8000 for the last few years. However greater commitment in the Hellmand province of Afghanistan has put pressure on the British Armed Forces, with rumblings of discontent from the MOD Chiefs of Staff, about the degree of overstretch and increasing open ended exposure both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the annoucement of reduction, much hype was given that the Iraqi forces are now in a position to takeover in the South; far from it, the Militia armies in the southern Iraq are now far stronger than ever before, and likely to fill any void left by the withdrawal, as each militia vies for territorial control whilst much of the Iraqi state security looks on without the will or capability to enforce central order.

The truth is Tony Blair is increasingly viewing how history will treat him, and this withdrawal is in some way trying to make his final months less controversial and easier going. Should southern Iraq continue to fragment, then at some point the USA forces will be drawn south, further weakening the US hold over the country. This is also showing signs of Britain breaking with the USA's failed occupation of Iraq which will be increasingly become apparent as Tony Blair steps down from Prime Minister in a few short months time. This coupled with increased demands from Afghanistan which is expected to see the British troop contingent rise by about 900 to 6000 in the coming months.

Other countries also announced smaller withdrawals, whilst the USA continues with its 21,000 troop surge in the Baghdad region, which increasingly looks as a prelude to some sort of attack on Iran or threat of attack against Iran.

Meanwhile a Whitehouse spokesperson put a positive spin on the news by stating "we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis."

By John York


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Comments

John_York
26 Feb 07, 17:13
1400 troops for Afghanistan
The truth of the troop withdrawl from Iraq is becoming apparent.

for its not a few hundred that are ear marked for Afghanistan but some 1600 troops, most of whom are being redeployed from Iraq, so that the total in Afghanistan will be more than the number in Iraq.

1600 were announced today, watch this number rise to 2000 and beyond.




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